RUSS counties to pay $5,000
MT. PLEASANT — At the Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) meeting last week, the board of directors reversed a previous vote, this time voting 5-4, now forcing the counties to each pay an additional $5,000 to make up for the loss of the $50,000 Utility Management Organization (UMO) grant. At last month’s meeting, RUSS had voted to pass the additional costs to the individual users.
RUSS was notified on Jan. 9, that the organization would not be receiving the UMO grant this year from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
RUSS’ current UMO contracted grant will end on June 30, 2014. The organization has received the UMO grant since 2008.
The re-vote was taken at the request of executive director Bruce Hudson.
“Over the last month or so, we have been discussing this loss of the UMO funding and to put it bluntly, the UMO funding was covering the costs of my salary to do the work that was in the grant and also to run the commission,” said Hudson. “I want to make sure that we have discussed all of the possibilities and the ramifications that comes with that vote.
“To me, if we don’t change or reverse the vote – and I understand that some of you might not want to – we could be looking at another lawsuit,” continued Hudson. “I feel very strongly about this and have spoken to our attorney and he says I am in the ballpark on this. I have also spoken to the USDA about this and they also say the same thing.”
Previously, each county making up RUSS – Mahaska, Des Moines, Jefferson, Wapello, Washington, Van Buren, Henry, Keokuk, Louisa and Lee – would have been able to expect $8,650 as its RUSS dues for the upcoming fiscal year. With the most recent vote, however, the county dues would rise to $13,650.
In the most recent vote, Jim Cary, Des Moines County; Greg Moeller, Henry County; Deke Wood, Keokuk County; Chris Ball, Louisa County; and Ernie Schiller of Lee County all voted in favor of passing the costs along to the counties.
Lee Dimmitt, Jefferson County; Jack Seward Jr., Washington County; and Bob Waugh, Van Buren County, voted against passing the additional costs to the counties.
Mike Vander Molen of Mahaska County was in attendance, however, he did not vote as he feels that his county is not a part of RUSS.
Ball had previously voted to pass the costs along to the individual users, and Schiller was absent for the last vote, which ended in a 5-3 in favor of passing the costs along to the individual users.
The supervisors agreed to reach out to their county/state representatives to see if any other funding was available for funding for UMO’s.
During the Feb. 12 meeting, the directors also:
Changed the March meeting to March 19 due to Day at Capital for supervisors.
Changed the April meeting to April 16.
Agreed to remove the amount due from Davis County from the record books.
The next RUSS meeting will be March 19, at 1 p.m. at the Henry County Emergency Management Building.